> Volume 66
by Tamsin Boardman
An interesting thing happened in the show room at the
Atlanta convention; as I was admiring the gorgeous B. deliciosa
grown by Charles Jaros, a visitor asked if the name meant that this
begonia was tasty. I answered that it probably did, as this is one begonia
reputed to be grown as food in Asia. The visitor promptly pinched off a
flower, popped it in his mouth, and pronounced it "interesting - sweet,
|B. deliciosa's beautiful bloom. Photograph by
Ewdard and Mildred Thompson.|
I was taken aback; not just because someone would
munch on a show plant, but also because that plant might have been sprayed
with pesticides. Charles later laughed about it, and assured me that he
never, ever used toxic chemicals on his babies. The taster would not keel
Begonias are edible, a fact that appalls some of us
and appeals to others. Whether you want to munch on it or not, there are
good reasons to grow B. deliciosa. It's a treat for the eyes,
B. deliciosa is a charming begonia, with cleft
dark leaves generously spotted with silver; its delicate light pink
flowers are fragrant. Classified horticulturally as "rhizomatous, rhizome
erect, jointed at or below soil level," it produces odd bulbous growths at
soil level, then shoots stems straight up into the air. It can grow to a
B. deliciosa was discovered by Jean Linden in
1881 in Borneo, a land of steamy climate. It is beautifully suited to its
home with Charles in Florida. In less tropical areas it will require
winter protection, and additional humidity will help. Place it near a
water source, don't let the soil dry out, and do all you can to keep the
Charles Jaros has another link to this begonia. In
1976 Paul Lowe crossed B. hatacoa 'Silver' x B. deliciosa, and
produced B. 'Charles Jaros' ABS registration #812.
Some of our top hybridizers have used this Borneo
native: Belva Kusler created B. 'Jean Heff' (B. deliciosa x B.
kenworthyae; ABS registration #368, 1973); Michael,Kartaz created B.
'Tsunami' (from the same cross as Lowe, 1978). In Japan Isamu Misono
crossed B. masoniana x B. deliciosa to create B. 'Bronze Iron'
(1980). All of these offspring were classified as "rhizomatous, rhizome
erect" or as "rhizomatous, rhizome jointed at or below soil level with
Crossed with rexes, B. deliciosa produced rex
offspring. Kit Jeans Mounger crossed B. 'Hallelujah' (one of her hybrids,
an upright-stemmed rex) x B. deliciosa and got B.'Camisole.' Robert
Cole crossed B. deliciosa x 'Sir Roy Yewell' for B. 'Satire', a rex
with an upright stem and large spiral leaves.
Then, the always adventurous Patrick Worley crossed
thick-stemmed, hairy leaved B. dipetala x B. deliciosa. Resulting
seed produced four begonias distinctive enough to name: B. 'Daniel Worley'
'Jesse Worley', 'Ricky Kramer', and 'Shawne Worley'. Neither thick-stemmed
nor rhizomatous, all these are classified as shrub-like, distinctive
foliage, unusual surface and/or coloring, and described as everblooming
with pink flowers.
is a versatile begonia. Even if munching on begonias doesn't appeal to
you, you could grow it to help preserve a species, for its beauty, for its
unusual growth habit, for use in hybridizing. It's not an easy grower -
the Thompsons' list it as "for the collector" - but it is one of our more
interesting and arresting species, and well worth the effort.
|Charles Jaros' B. deliciosa photographed by
Midori Nobusawa in Atlanta 1998.|
ABS sponsors an 'Adopt a Species' program through the
Conservation Department. If you would like to 'adopt' a species, grow,
propagate, report on it, and share it with others, contact:
Bluff Dale, 7X 76433